CES 2017 is now in the history books, but the massive trade show in Las Vegas revealed some of the trends we can expect to see in the gadget world for the next 12 months. So what did we see that will become a “thing” in the new year? Read on to find out.
VR is slowly getting cheaper and ditching wired connections
Hardcore virtual reality for consumers finally showed up in the real world in 2016, with the launch of the PC-based HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets, along with the PlayStation VR hardware for the PS4 console. At CES 2017, we saw that companies were trying to get rid of those pesky wires, with HTC’s third-party solutions and the promise of a WiGig solution, in partnership with Intel, later this year. Intel also showed off its updated wireless Project Alloy mixed reality headset as part of its CES 2017 presentation, with the promise that some OEMs will launch products based on the design by the end of 2017.
At the same time, Microsoft also promoted cheaper PC VR headsets with wired connections. Microsoft says that companies like Dell, HP, Lenovo and others will begin selling these headsets for as low as $400 in 2017. That’s much lower than the current price of the Vive or Rift, but we will have to wait and see how they perform, as none of the prototypes shown at CES actually worked. We even got an announcement of AR/VR smartglasses coming from ODG that will be released later in 2017, which will be powered by the upcoming high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.
Curved is out and thin is in for TVs
The curved TV trend that has been around for the past couple of years seems to be disappearing. CES 2017 was all about getting flat-screen TVs to be as thin as you could get. Indeed, LG showed off TVs at the show that were so thin and light, they have to be placed on walls with magnets.
CES also showed that more smart TVs will be using AI to help out. Amazon announced that a number of TVs will be using its Fire TV operating system, which also connects to its Alexa digital assistant. Xiaomi also showed a super-thin TV, the Mi TV 4, that will use AI to help its owners find the best content currently available for their particular tastes.
AI assistants like Alexa are trying to come in your home and car
We have already written about how Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant seemed to be everywhere at CES 2017. A number of connected devices for the home and for cars will be using the AI. The idea is that you will be able to lock your doors, raise or dim your lights, or start your morning cup of coffee without having to lift a finger.
Alexa was not the only AI assistant that was shown at CES. The Google Assistant is being incorporated into the new version of the NVIDIA Shield Android TV set-top box, and Microsoft said it was working to bring its Cortana assistant into cars as well.
Electric and self-driving cars are all the rage
CES has always been a place for new consumer technology in cars, and this year’s show was no different. This time, however, the focus was on bringing both electric and self-driving cars closer to reality for most consumers. We finally got to see the once mysterious Faraday Future FF91 electric car, and more EV cars from Fiat Chrysler and Nissan were shown off. We even got to see a demo of an upcoming fast charging electric car station at the show.
Self-driving car prototypes were shown at CES 2017 by NVIDIA, and BlackBerry also revealed plans to develop technology for making self-driving vehicles as well. Of course, most of these demos are for concepts that are still years away from actually being available, but it shows that the trend toward smart, electronic self-driving cars is not going away anytime soon.
The Windows PC platform is still very much alive
CES 2017 showed that good old-fashioned Windows PCs can still generate a ton of excitement when they are offered in new ways. At the show, we saw a ton of new and upcoming thin-and-light notebooks that also offer all-day battery life, including one from Samsung. The 2-in-1 trend for touchscreen notebooks and tablets also shows no signs of slowing down, as many of those models are in the works from Dell, Lenovo and others. We even saw one upcoming business notebook from Dell that supports wireless charging.
At the other end of the PC spectrum, the hardcore gamers could check out the $9,000 Acer Predator 21 X, a notebook with a huge, and curved, 21-inch screen and desktop PC graphics cards. There were lots of high end 4K and even 8K PC monitors shown at CES. Razer even showed a gaming laptop concept with three displays (yes, three) that folded up into one relatively thin case.
Smartphones were not a big focus
This has been the case in past CES shows, but the 2017 event only had a few major announcements in the Android smartphone industry. Huawei revealed its unlocked Mate 9 phone’s official US launch date and ASUS showed off two upcoming devices; the ZenFone 3 Zoom, with its 500mAh battery and its dual rear camera, and the ZenFone AR, with its support for both Google’s Daydream VR and its Tango AR technology.
There were other smartphones announced at CES, but they were in the mid-to-low budget range. Just like previous years, the smartphone industry is waiting until the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona in late February to make a number of major flagship reveals.
All in all, CES 2017 was a show that put a spotlight on how technology and devices continue to connect with each other, with the help of digital assistants, and that the arrival of virtual reality is still something that needs to find a focus. In the meantime, PC and smartphone companies still have a huge part to play in current technology trends.
What are your overall impressions of what was shown at CES 2017? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Any interesting trends we didn’t mention?